Helmets don’t last forever, so when my road helmet developed cracks in its skin, I picked a Louis Garneau X-lite Helmet to protect my skull out on the streets. It’s a darned fine helmet.
Garneau says the X-Lite is the lightest helmet on the road. The label on my medium says it weighs in at 210 grams (7.4 ounces); about 130g less than the Giro Torrent II it replaced. A small is 15 grams lighter (6.9 oz). The helmet’s body is a super-lightweight microcell polymer bonded to a hard polystyrene shell. One reason that the helmet is so light is that the “dome” that covers your head is about half missing: the helmet has 37 vents to reduce weight and improve airflow. Garneau calls the helmet’s shape an “exoskeleton,” which aptly describes the angular geometry of struts and spaces. A ring-shaped reinforcement wraps the base of the helmet to add rigidity and spread shock in case of a fall.
The suspension system is U-shaped flexible nylon anchored just in front of the ears. The helmet rests on foam pads on the interior surface and a block at the rear of the U. A small knob on the suspension allows one-handed adjustment of the fit. The chin straps of nylon webbing have a side-release buckle closure; and the Y-shaped strap positions are adjustable to accommodate different head shapes and ear positions.
My version is red, white, and black with red straps; Garneau also version in silver and white, gray, all white, and black. All colors are available in sizes S-M-L. I find that the Medium (which LG says fits hat sizes 7 to 7-1/4) runs a little small; definitely try one on before buying. It’s almost too small with a nylon skullcap for winter riding. The X-Lite isn’t just light and cool, though, it's also comfortable to wear; comfort enhanced by adjustable suspension and straps The X-Lite’s low weight and high-volume ventilation are a road cyclist’s dream. The design saves an ounce or three in a sport where weight translates directly to speed, and lets a rider vent some of that dangerous waste heat. The ventilation factor is clearly noticeable compared to the Torrent II it replaces or to the Giro Phase I sometimes wear.
An excellent choice in road helmets, the Louis Garneau X-Lite Helmet is super lightweight while keeping my head cool and offering excellent protection.